Cassandra “Cassie” Rae Tjaden Ordonio, a spring 2021 journalism graduate of the School of Communications in University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences, has been selected a 2021 Voices student fellow by the Asian American Journalists Association (AAJA).
Ordonio and 21 other student journalists, picked from a large pool of national and international applicants, will receive training and mentorship this summer from news organizations such as the Los Angeles Times and ESPN. The fellowship’s goal is to increase diversity in journalism and to train the next generation of media to embrace high levels of professionalism and adherence to truth.
Ordonio is on a four-fellow features team. Under the guidance of her program mentors, she is working on her first story, with her finished piece to be published on the Voices website at the end of her fellowship.
“I’m honored to have been selected. It’s particularly exciting to be able to work with a group of talented peers and mentors,” said Ordonio. “I think of journalism as a form of art. It’s striving to perfect your craft while being professionally nosey.”
Voices, in its 31st year, has a core mission to help aspiring journalists understand how to engage with their audiences and to reflect beforehand on the impact of their stories. It dovetails perfectly with what Ordonio already believes.
“Journalism isn’t about having your stories published to make you feel good or boost your ego, it’s about having an impact on the community. Even if only one person is affected, it still means the world to me that I helped them in some way,” she said.
Ordonio is currently a summer intern at Honolulu Civil Beat, an investigative news website. Her career goal? To win a Pulitzer Prize.
“I’m going to work hard to earn one someday,” she said. “That, and working for The Guardian (daily newspaper in England), and reporting across the Pacific Islands, are my dreams.”
Ordonio, of Filipino and Chamorro descent, was born and raised in California. She lives in Moʻiliʻili and graduated in May 2021 with dual UH Mānoa bachelor’s degrees in journalism and Pacific Islands Studies.
This effort is an example of UH Mānoa’s goals of Enhancing Student Success (PDF) and Excellence in Research: Advancing the Research and Creative Work Enterprise (PDF), two of four goals identified in the 2015–25 Strategic Plan (PDF), updated in December 2020.